Qantas beats off Covid blues with a million more seats and new Brisbane routes

Qantas will return a million new seats to its capacity, boost flights to the US and Japan and start two new international routes from Brisbane as it pushes for a return of its pre-Covid levels by March next year.

May 19, 2023, updated May 19, 2023
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said demand had been strong (AAP Image/Joel Carrett)

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said demand had been strong (AAP Image/Joel Carrett)

The airline said it would boost its international network with extra flights, more aircraft and new routes as it restores capacity in line with strong travel demand and the broader recovery of the aviation industry.

It said that from late October the extra one million seats would come online offering customers more choice to destinations across Asia, the United States and the Pacific.

The additional capacity would be made possible through a combination of more Qantas aircraft returning to service, new aircraft joining the fleet and an arrangement with oneworld partner Finnair to operate two Airbus A330 aircraft on two Qantas routes.

It also included using more aircraft from the Brisbane-based Alliance Aviation.

The new routes out of Brisbane were a daily service to Wellington, New Zealand, and three times a week to Honiara, Solomon Islands.

The Brisbane to Tokyo service would also be boosted from three times a week to daily.

“The network changes will see the group’s international capacity grow to around 100 per cent of pre-COVID levels by March 2024, up from 44 per cent 12 months ago and 84 per cent today,” Qantas said.

The return to capacity would mean an extra 300 jobs.

Outgoing chief executive Alan Joyce said the rebound in demand for international travel since borders reopened had been incredibly strong and the return of capacity would occur as travel demand increases in the Australian summer.

“Qantas has been the most on-time major domestic airline for the past eight months in a row and that improved performance means we can release some of the aircraft we’ve had in reserve. That reflects more parts of the aviation supply chain returning to normal and it’s a huge credit to the hard work of our people across the group,” Joyce said.

“While airlines globally are working to restore capacity to meet demand, there is still a mismatch between supply and demand for international flying. But with more of our aircraft back in the air, new 787s joining our fleet and our contract with Finnair, we’ve got more seats for our customers and more opportunity for Qantas crew as we increase our own flying.

“We know our customers are looking for great value and this additional capacity will also put downward pressure on fares.”

Qantas said in the past six months it had brought five international aircraft back into its fleet – some from long-term storage and some that were on standby as operational spares while the industry stabilised.

Qantas was preparing to resume San Francisco flights next week and launch its inaugural service from Sydney to New York via Auckland next month. Seasonal services to Rome and flights between Melbourne and Hong Kong will resume in June.

A daily Sydney to Shanghai service will return after three years and the Hong Kong route would have a 50 per cent increase to its capacity with daily flights from Sydney. Melbourne Hong Kong flights would also be increased as would Melbourne to Singapore.

The Delhi service out of Sydney would increase to six times a week over summer and Sydney to Singapore would get an extra flight to make 15 services a week from Sydney.

Sydney to Tokyo services would be doubled to twice daily and Melbourne to Tokyo would increase from three times a week to daily.

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